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Mass balance approach to selenium cycling through the San Joaquin Valley, sources to river to bay

January 1, 1997

Surface and ground waters of the Central Valley of California (e.g., rivers, dams, off-stream storage reservoirs, pumping facilities, irrigation and drinking water supply canals, agricultural drainage canals) are part of a hydrologic system that makes up a complex ecosystem extending from the riparian wetlands of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers through the San Francisco Bay/Delta Estuary to the Pacific Ocean (Fig. 1). Water quality concerns center on elevated selenium (Se) and salt concentrations in irrigation drainage water discharged into the waterways of the relatively arid San Joaquin Valley (SJV), including the San Joaquin River (SJR). These waters are made unique by dissolved Se, weathered from marine sedimentary rocks of the Coast Ranges to the west, being ultimately concentrated to toxic levels in aquatic wildlife in the wetlands of the SJV/SJR trough (Figs. 1 and 2) (Presser and Ohlendorf, 1987; Presser, 1994). Scientific and environmental concerns focus on the bioreactive properties of Se and its partitioning among biota, water, and sediment, and on whether simple dilution models can be applied to an element that bioaccumulates. Because of state and federal commitments to provide water for irrigation, as well as drainage of irriga­ tion wastewater by the year 2000 drainage from over 180,000 ha of seleniferous, salinized farmland within the western SJV will create approximately 387 million cubic meters of potentially toxic drainage water annually (i.e., “problem water,” as defined by the San Joaquin Valley Drainage Program, 1990), thus lending urgency to an understanding of the biogeochemistry of Se in this environment.

Publication Year 1997
Title Mass balance approach to selenium cycling through the San Joaquin Valley, sources to river to bay
Authors Theresa S. Presser, David Z. Piper
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70198694
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center; National Research Program - Western Branch; Toxic Substances Hydrology Program